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+ servings

Smoked Cornish Hen

A Cornish hen recipe that delivers a crispy and juicy bird that is deeply flavored inside and out. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Brine and Marinate: 2 days
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 1007kcal
Author: Marwin Brown


  • Smoker
  • fryer


For the brine

  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Ground Garlic
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp Paprika

For the Marinade

  • 2 cups Fresh Cilantro leaves only
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Oregano leaves only
  • 2 Jalapeños de-seeded and de-veined
  • 4 Garlic Cloves roughly chopped
  • 2 medium Limes juiced
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 lbs Cornish game hen


  • Remove the backbone from the Cornish hen using kitchen sears or a sharp knife. With hen remaining skin side up press down firmly with palms of the hands to break the breast bone
  • Mix brine ingredients together and rub generously all over the hen. Place the hen on a plate lightly covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • Mix the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor. Feel free to make ahead. Add the brined hen to a large ziplock bag and add the marinade. Let sit overnight.
  • Remove hen from the refrigerator and take out of the ziplock bag. You can rinse off the marinade or leave as is (I don’t rinse). Start smoker and preheat to 250 degrees while the hen rests and reaches room temperature. Smoke the Cornish hen about 1 1/2 hours. Remove and set aside.
  • Preheat fryer with oil to 350 degrees. Fry the Cornish hen for 2 minutes.


  • Keep your dry brine ingredients simple. Between the brine, marinades, and smoking there will be more than enough flavor
  • This is essentially herb chicken so feel free to make changes to fresh herbs used in the marinade. Parsley, thyme, rosemary are all good adds in some combination.
  • Spatchcock aka butterfly your hen for faster and more even cooking. Use a good set of kitchen sheers to cut the back away
  • If using frozen hens, make sure they thaw fully before cooking
  • Let hen rest for 5 minutes after final step. If you slice into immediately juice will leak everywhere


Calories: 1007kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 61g | Fat: 75g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 344mg | Sodium: 5456mg | Potassium: 1148mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2536IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 5mg
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